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Bath heap further woe on Worcester

23 Sep 2006
Bath heap further woe on Worcester

Worcester remain without a win in the Guinness Premiership after another disappointing display against Bath at the Recreation Ground.

The 17-11 defeat leaves John Brain’s men without a win after four games this season and, with Northampton and Leicester to play in the EDF Energy Cup in the next two weeks, their hopes of a morale-boosting win appear slim.

In a game lacking in real quality, Bath’s only try of the game came through scrum-half Nick Walshe, while replacement hooker Aleki Lutui’s late effort at least earned the visitors a bonus point.

Olly Barkley kicked two penalties before hobbling off at half-time with what appeared to be a back injury – adding to the growing casualty list facing England coach Andy Robinson – while Shaun Berne added a penalty and a drop-goal.

Shane Drahm kicked two penalties for the visitors in front of a crowd of 10,140, but their lack of creativity behind the scrum and lack of grunt in it with be causing Brain a real headache.

Bath played with increasing confidence as the game wore on, with Berne providing some touches of class at stand-off, but over all this was a poor advert for Premiership rugby.

Barkley and Drahm exchanged early penalties as the two sides struggled for fluency in near-perfect conditions for running rugby.

England flanker Pat Sanderson worked tirelessly for the visitors in the opening stages, but his fellow forwards were unable to provide a platform for the Worcester backs to work from.

Ironically it was Worcester’s best move of the half that led to Bath’s second penalty, and the sin-binning of prop Chris Horsman.

Worcester winger Marcel Garvey joined the line at pace on an arcing run from the blindside, making a significant dent into the Bath defence.

The move broke down as the Warriors three-quarters sought to stretch Bath and Joe Maddock hacked the ball up field and gathered before his forwards carried it deep into the visitors’ 22.

Horsman was penalised for killing the ball in an attempt to slow play down, and was promptly sent to the bin for the third time in consecutive matches.

Barkley knocked over the simplest of penalties to make it 6-3, but Worcester managed to go in level at half-time thanks to Drahm’s second penalty just  before the break.

The respective penalties proved to be Drahm and Barkley’s last contributions of the game as both men were forced of at half-time through injury.

Bath scored the first try of the game in the 47th minute when full-back Nick Abendanon and winger Michael Stephenson returned a stray Worcester kick with interest before replacement Ryan Davis linked well in midfield with Lee Mears.

Berne was halted just short of the line but Walshe scrambled his way over from the ensuing ruck. Berne was unable to convert from wide out and he missed another difficult penalty minutes later.

The Australian fly-half redeemed himself in the 64th minute when he took Bath into a 14-6 lead with a neatly taken dropped goal following a move that he had initiated.

Another sweeping Bath three-quarter move resulted in Worcester captain Sanderson becoming the second player to be sent to the sin bin for killing the ball. Byrne’s penalty made the game safe at 17-6.

Lutui’s try, 10 minutes into injury-time, snatched Worcester a bonus point and moved them above Harlequins at the foot of the table, albeit temporarily.

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